Berenato, Giamareses honored by ag industry

AFP Correspondent

ATLANTIC CITY — Gov. Chris Christie dropped by the New Jersey Ag Convention’s awards dinner on Jan. 18, but the real stars of the event were those honored as New Jersey Vegetable Grower of the Year and the Blueberry Grower of the Year.
Also in the spotlight were William V. Griffin, awarded for Distinguished Service to New Jersey Agriculture and Paul “Duce” Tallamy II, who was honored as Outstanding Young Farmer of the year.
Jim and Sue Giamarese won the award for New Jersey growers of the year. The Middlesex County couple farms about 130 acres planted in vegetables and Christmas trees.
The couple also grows tree fruit and bedding plants, much of it through a retail market and as one of the state’s first “Pick Your Own” marketing efforts.
“Jim and Sue have been advocates for every sector of agriculture,” said James Marino, president of the Vegetable Growers Association of New Jersey. “As a couple, they found a need and ran with it.”
For the past 18 years, Jim and Sue have been involved with the Farmers Against Hunger, a program that offers gleaning from their farm for local food banks. Jim has served on the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture and the New Jersey Ag Society Board of Trustees for 20 years, serving as president of the trustees from 2006 to 2008.
The Giamerese farm has remanded as an active center of food production and education in the community, serving as a site for farm tours for schools and other organizations.
Jim Giamarese is no stranger to awards for his dedication and excellence in agriculture.
He received the VGANJ’s 1989 award as Outstanding Young Farmer of the Year and the 2010 Middlesex County Farmer of the Year.
In accepting the award for the couple, Jim Giamarese said his wife has been a keystone of the farm’s success.
“I depend on Sue for more than you can know,” he said. “You can’t do it by yourself.”
The Blueberry Grower of the Year Award went to Joseph Berenato, owner of Stoney Creek Farms in Atlantic County. Along with his sons, Joe Jr. and A.J. and wife Nancy, Joseph Berenato farm 155 acres of blueberries.
Berenato has remained in the forefront of technological advances for blueberries and was one of the first to have his entire crop under solid set irrigation. The farm’s blueberries are cleaned and packed in a 100-percent solar-powered packing house.
In accepting the award, Berenato thanked his wife for her support and his late father-in-law for showing him how to be a blueberry grower.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have this great support from my family,” Berenato said. “It was an honor to have my father-in-law there for all those years.”
Outsanding Young Farmer of the Year went to Paul “Duce” Tallamy II, who, along with his wife Joy operate Green Valley Farms in Sussex County.
Duce grows beef and vegetable crops on the 250-acre farm and market the beef and vegetable crops at four farm markets, all within 20 miles of the home farm.
Active in the community and church, Paul Tallamy thanks his family and God for the award and for the farm’s success.
Another Middlesex County grower was awarded the Distinguished Service to Agriculture Award.
William V. Griffin, owner of W.V. Griffin Nurseries, was awarded for his service on the state board of agriculture and the Middlesex County Board of Agriculture and the Middlesex County Ag Development Board. A past-president of the state board of agriculture, Griffin was active in the fight to keep the New Jersey Department of Agriclutre alive during an attempt by Trenton to eliminate the department.
A pair of Rutgers Extension Service specialists were awarded a total of $9,900 in Charlie Meyers Research Award grants for continuing research that will further New Jersey agricultural industry.
Wes Kline, Cumberland County’s ag agent, was awarded $4,900 for his continuing research into red bell pepper varieties. Peter Nitzche, Morris County ag agent, was awarded $5,000 for research into tomato grafting for improved tomato production.